Before I became a full-time domestic engineer and writer, I spent A LOT of time commuting. My job entailed visiting failing public schools (often several a day), all of which were quite far out on the train lines (oh hi, East New York!) Hence, I became quite the pro at commuting. Assuming I could grab a seat, there were some days I used this time to catch some zzz’s, but I quickly learned this was a fantastic chunk of time to get other things done, too.
Learn A New Language
Whether you’re a flashcard kind of person, or learn best listening to music in other languages, your subway/bus commute provides a perfect slot of time every day to learn a few new words and phrases. There are SO many apps out there, so of course it depends on which language you are trying to learn, but the most helpful one I’ve come across is Mango. This can be used for FREE through the NYPL, and they have SO many languages–even Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, my personal language trifecta.
Read A Book
I know you’re like, “thank you, captain obvious!” but it really does surprise me how I rarely see people reading on the subway! Especially with the largest public library system at our disposal, there’s really no excuse not to get some good reads in on your commute. You’d be surprised at how many novels you’ll complete throughout the year with as little as 30 minutes of reading a day! p.s. you can also borrow e-books for free via the NYPL, if that’s your thing!
Create Your To-Do List(s)
Oh, the amount of lists I’ve created on the subway! Since this is “dead time”, I’ll use it to make lists of what I need at the grocery store, work projects I need to complete, dream destinations I want to visit someday, NYC restaurants to try, exhibits to see–you name it. I always left the train feeling like my life was a little more ordered than when I got on.
Did you guys see that episode of Girls where Marnie was like, “hmm I could take an Uber and meditate OR I could really challenge my meditation skills and try to meditate on the subway!” So funny, but I swear, the subway can be an IDEAL place to really get your head in a good place. When I would have to trek from East Harlem to East New York, I would always take the last 15 minutes of that commute (god, was it long!) to turn off all my apps, shut my book, put my list away, and close my eyes for some re-centering before having to deal with what awaited me at my next stop. Yes, some may call it a “cat nap”, but I promise it really did help;-)
Play A Game
Sometimes the last thing you want to do on the subway is use your brain or think about your life once you exit the train. Totally get it. That’s why playing games, be it Candy Crush or casino games or anything in between, can be the perfect way to turn your brain off and just use that time to have a little fun, rest, relax, and come out of the subway feeling recharged and ready to tackle whatever comes next.